Sir: As a party member in one of Labour's "Birmingham Four" suspended constituencies, may I congratulate Ken Livingstone for having highlighted the injusticeperpetrated by the party hierarchy against ordinary party members, not just in Birmingham, but in Manchester, Bradford and Tower Hamlets as well.
Certainly, there are worrying undertones of racism, which the party must take steps to address quickly. But Mr Livingstone has failed to highlight another obvious point: the fact that New Labour seems to be trying to systematically railroad the outcome of pre-selections in inner-city areas, where local, democratic pre-selections would undoubtedly throw up candidates with a primary commitment to serving the interests of the people of impoverished inner-city areas.
Perhaps "activist" candidates are now regarded as a worrying, potential left-wing embarrassment to the leadership, but such candidates are always going to be the natural preference of inner-city branch members, whatever their race or colour. It's about time New Labour accepted this fact, and worked with local activists to improve our inner cities.
And please, Tony, on behalf of the thousand suspended party members in Birmingham - when can we have our democracy back?
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